How Do You Stir Up Spiritual Hunger?

”On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,“ - Luke‬ ‭5‬:‭1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A few weeks ago, I was reading and this verse leaped off the page at me. The people were so hungry for the word of God that they pressed in on Jesus to hear it.

I’m not sure if you have ever been in a throng of people, but for myself, it’s not the most pleasant thing. In my younger years, I actually liked it at concerts and other venues where the energy and levels of anticipation are so high that comfort doesn’t matter. As I’ve gotten older, I like my space. I only put up with discomfort when something or someone is worth it.

In the verse above, the simple truth was that the people were so hungry for the Word that they were willing to press in on Jesus. A few thoughts come to mind in this one verse.

”“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.“
Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We know the Bible says that we are blessed if we hunger, but the bigger question that comes to mind is how do we stir spiritual hunger in our lives? I know of only a few ways to do so; and as we turn the page and start a new year, my heart is longing to stir a hunger for God, fresh and new. So if you want to stir spiritual hunger, here you go!

  • Praying to the Father

Prayer is by far the temperature gauge of the believer. You can always tell how hungry we truly are for a move of God by how consistent we are in our prayer life. I know, I know, you didn’t like the word consistent, and I agree with you! I don’t like it either, but it’s true. If you want to stir up hunger in your soul for the things of God, you are going to have to get consistent in prayer.
A change I am making this year is that I am putting 3 prayer times a day in my calendar. Morning, noon, and night, I will pray for 10 minutes each time. 

You probably thought I was going to say an hour a day, didn’t you? 

No, I’ve found consistency far outweighs quantity. If it really matters to me, then I’ll put it on my calendar. We get to pray; we don’t have too. Prayer and worship can go hand in hand, but many have weak prayer lives because they have become reliant on music instead of thoughtful prayer. Pray for smaller amounts of time. It works for me, and it helps me unpack the weight I pick up through the day. Anxieties, frustrations, worries, resentment… all of the things. My goal, this year, is to stay lighter in my spirit, which means I need to pray more consistently so that life doesn’t weigh me down as much!

  • Reading the Word

It’s hard to hunger for Him if you don’t know Him. You can’t know Him without learning about Him.

”But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew‬ ‭4‬:‭4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Word of God is nourishment to a believer's soul. I know, for many, they think of it more like broccoli than pizza, but it begs a different question. Would we rather be healthy or pleased?
I’m all for books written, studies, topical studies, devotionals (obviously!), and all the things. Heck, I’m preparing to write a book this year, but there is nothing that can replace Scripture. The Bible will either get sin out of your life, or you will just stop reading the Bible. It’s His Word, and it breathes life into us. Study it, memorize it, and hold it in great honor. How you treat the Word of God reveals how you feel about the God who wrote it.

I suggest a Bible reading plan. There is one on our app, and the Bible App is another great option. Again, consistency outweighs quantity. Some of it, you won’t understand, but don’t stop. Keep reading it. It's just like working out. When you start, you don’t know what you’re doing; but if you keep at it, you’ll be amazed at what changes in time!

  • Fasting

Ok, I left this one to the end, because I figured if I put it at the top, you would stop reading. Now that you’ve gone this far, you might as well finish it.

No one likes fasting; and if they do, it’s only because they have learned about the spiritual benefits of it, not because they liked it at the beginning. This is, by far, the best way to stir up spiritual hunger in our lives. We say “no” to our flesh and to our natural cravings.

Fasting is really saying ‘NO’ to all of the things we desire, things that sometimes hold us bound in this life so that we replace the pursuit of time with Jesus.

Paul tells Timothy ”For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.“ - ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Let’s face the truth. Some of us aren’t hungry for God, because we are filled by everything else. Our flesh and our appetites are out of control; and though we say we want to do what’s right, we inevitably feel like we can’t stop.

So how do you stop? You stop by doing what my mom taught Lauren and I to do with our boys when they start to go through seasons of acting up. You shorten your “no.” You shorten the leash of your flesh.

Mom used to say “No.” is a complete sentence. It starts with a capital letter and ends with a period. This is what fasting essentially is. You say “no” to something your flesh really desires.
And just to help you with this, we are starting a fast Sunday, January 14, at sundown until Thursday, January 18 at sundown in preparation for the conference so you don’t have to do it alone!

I’ll be honest. Fasting is something I’m not good at; but as I’ve been praying about this next year and what God wants to do in my life, I know fasting is a big part of it. So I invite you to join me in regularly fasting so that our appetites are set by Jesus instead of everything else that this world uses to distract us.

My prayer for myself, our family, and all of Opendoor is that we would hunger and thirst for more of Jesus. He alone is the one that can satisfy. May we pursue Him consistently, and above all, remember that we do the work of discipleship, not because it saves us but because relationship requires work.

To a healthy 2024!

His name is Jesus, and He is altogether beautiful. May we discover how beautiful He is.
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Amelia Martin - January 15th, 2024 at 7:11am

I haven’t even finished reading the devotional but as I was reading, I thought to myself Pastor Aaron should write a book. I could hear his heart as I read the words on the page and feel God pulling me and even confirming things He’s been showing me… And what do you know? This year Pastor Aaron is planning on writing a book! My joy is through the roof and I’m so encouraged and had to comment before I could even finish reading. I love my church family & I’m so pumped to do see all of what God does in us and through us as a family & individually in 2024 🙏🏼😇💕

Yolanda James - January 15th, 2024 at 6:23pm

Now, I'm about to get "Hood Holy" in words right here for a minute! Now, how come I can literally see myself as I read most of what Pastor Aaron is saying, here? I mean, most of the devotion he's calling a sista' out (except the part about becoming an author--- not there yet) seems that way cuz I need it! I don't know about anyone else but I need to be "sucka' punched" into shape! Does it feel good? ---NOPE, but it's good FOR me! I am so thankful to be a part of a ministry where I can nourish and cultivate seed planted throughout my life and continue to grow, thrive, and even plant new ones...simply put, I need all the help and guidance I can get to keep pushing through this life and be all God has for me to be and do. I appreciate the "REAL" that Pastor Aaron brings forth on and off the pulpit.

Thanks Pastor! Bring it on! 👊